August 27 Letters to the Editor

Posted Aug. 26, 2009, at 6:53 p.m.

Rx drug control

Last year in Maine, approximately 160 deaths were attributed to the abuse of prescription narcotics; more than 300 infants were born addicted to controlled substances and the abuse of these narcotics is the number one reason criminals give for committing crime. So, why, in our state, are rates of prescription abuse so very high? The bigger question is what is being done to prevent and control this substance-abuse issue in our state.

While little can be done to prevent the sale of these prescriptions on the street, something can be done to control the amounts prescribed to the individuals seeking them. Reviewing prescription history through a prescription monitoring program on the Maine government Web site allows doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists to register and review patients’ histories with controlled substances. Using this resource could provide professionals in the field with important information about patients before prescriptions for controlled substances are written.

Yet, while the Web site is readily available, only 40 percent of medical doctors are registered and only 20 percent of physicians’ assistants and 11 percent of pharmacists. Overall, in Maine around 1,200 providers are registered for the program.

If Maine residents can voice concern and encourage a standard to be set for prescribing controlled substances, awareness of this issue would expand and lay the framework for a society that is advocating for prevention concerning prescription narcotics.

Sadel Nesin

Glenburn

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A simple solution

Let’s build on what works.!

America invented Medicare; it is uniquely American. It is a proven, well-liked and efficient system. So why not just expand it so the rest of us can enjoy it?

If seniors feel they need to supplement what Medicare doesn’t cover, they go out and buy it from private insurance companies. So why can’t the rest of us do the same? Why do we have to create a whole new unproven system like a “health care exchange” or “public option”?

The old saying, “KISS — Keep It Simple Stupid,” is what is missing in the current health care reform debate.

We don’t need an incomprehensible 1,017-page health care reform plan like Congress’ HR 3200, which they can’t even explain to their constituents.

I think most people would agree that if Medicare is good enough for our parents and grandparents, it’s good enough for us. So, I propose the following health care reform bill, which will meet the primary objectives for reform — affordable, universal, sustainable and equitable.

The KISS Healthcare Reform Act: Change every reference to the “age 65” in Medicare to read “age 0”; change the 2.8 percent Medicare funding in FICA to 9.9 percent; changes take effect January 2011.

Medicare is not perfect, but it’s a great place to start. We can work on improving it later as a separate issue.

Jerry Call

South Thomaston

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On preventing abuse

Our school system is missing something very vital that could affect the nation’s long-term spending for medical care: a longitudinal approach toward drug and alcohol prevention.

We are of the belief that to truly understand math, science, English and reading we are to be schooled in them for 13 years by trained professionals who are highly qualified. Why then, when it comes to some of the most dangerous things in our children’s lives, are we not giving them the education to make informed choices? It is disturbing to me that we think that two years of D.A.R.E. in the school system is sufficient to navigate a lifetime of temptation.

“Education of this type needs to be done at home!” you say, but it is not being done at home and just because it isn’t talked about doesn’t make it magically disappear from your child’s life. Not only does there need to be education about what substances do to you and your body, there also needs to be a shift in thought for those who already are addicted to substances.

It is so much easier to blame individuals for their mistakes than to look at how we have failed as a group, which is what we have done to certain populations, especially addicts. What if we had given more education or compassion? What if we had not forced abstinence when they weren’t ready? Forcing someone to do something is the wrong way to create change. Try getting to know the individual and not the addiction, you may surprise yourself.

Nicole Hatch

Thomaston

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